Physics

We invite Peter's colleagues and collaborators to bring a bit of "beauty, charm and quarks" to enliven this site. We hope to get a Big Bang out of your thoughts.

13 comments:

CMS Group - UCLA said...

It is with great sadness that we inform you that our friend and
colleague Peter Schlein died yesterday from a heart attack in Paris
while traveling to New York. He was in his 70's.

Peter's career at University of California, Los Angeles, was marked
by extraordinary creativity and energy which included pioneering
experiments at both the ISR and the SppS. He was a strong advocate of the
forward B physics experiment concept that grew into LHCb. As a
long-standing member of CMS, Peter and his group made contributions
in B physics, diffractive physics, and data acquisition. In recent years,
he was devoted to re-discovering and recording music composed
by his father, Irving Schlein.

Peter's passing is a great loss to CMS, UCLA, and to our field
in general.

Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Peter's family.

CMS Group

johnq said...

My name is John Quackenbush. I was a PhD student at UCLA working in Theoretical Particle Physics from 1983-1990. I got to know Peter by working as his TA in Physics 6B and worked with him many times during my graduate career.

One summer during graduate school, I was in Europe for a Summer School and took the opportunity to travel, thinking I would spend a month seeing the sights. But when I passed through Geneva, I contacted Peter who treated me like a visiting dignitary, and over the best meal I have ever eaten - a cheese fondue in some small Swiss town - he convinced me to spend a few weeks working at CERN. That was Peter at his finest. His passion for his work, and the fact that he was a genuinely good, kind, and caring person was what kept me there. I can honestly say it was among the two best working weeks of my life and a great part of it was working with a truly outstanding scientist.

My career took me in directions I never expected and I am now a Professor at Harvard in Computational Biology and Bioinformaitcs. But in the years since I left UCLA, Peter was one of the few people I kept in touch with. When my wife and I visited UCLA a few years ago, she and I ran into him and Peter cleared his calendar and spent nearly an hour talking with us. He shared his science and his passion for his Father's music and my wife, a non-scientist, left impressed by a truly extraordinary man. A few weeks, as promised, a CD of his Father's music arrived and since it has remained among our favorites.

Peter Schlein was in many ways my hero. A kind, compassionate, and genuine man who was passionate about his family and his work. I only wish that people will one day see me as a fraction of the man Peter was. The world today is a somewhat less interesting place and is diminished by his passing, but my life is better for having known him.

John Dainton said...

I came to really know Peter from the early days of HERA after we had first met at the 1988 Munich conference.

Peter arrived at DESY armed with his UA8 pomeron di-jets determined to make those of us who thought we had the hard pomeron at our feet sit up and look around. There followed many years of growing interaction in which he continued to press me to help him marry hadronic diffractive language with photonic diffractive language.

We ate many dinners in Hamburg and in later years in Geneva. At each one conversation revolved around his pomeron, his insistence that we should sit up and take note of what HERA data actually said in his language, and of course his father's music. Only when the table was also graced by Lisa did we get a chance to consider more important matters in life!

Peter was an amazing man. It is said that physicists are obsessive. I agree with that. But Peter was not just obsessive about his pomerons, and his B's, he was obsessive about his Father's, now his, music, and through each of his obsessions came a commitment to do what was right which all came to respect, and to value greatly.

I will miss him. My wife Josephine will miss him. We will all I guess miss him greatly. I will not forget the wry smile which always appeared at those moments when one was just getting a touch frustrated that he didn't seem to let up at all pushing his point. It made me pause, and usually then realise that he was right and I was wrong.

An unforgettable man, whose smiling face will always for me come to mind every time I see that inelastic diffractive cross section as a function of energy land in an overhead from someone somewhere out there in Pomeronland!!!!

Thanx Peter, you left an indelible mark on physics and on music and we will never forget you.

Henry, Priscilla, Sarah, and Genevieve Frisch said...

We first met Peter through Physics, but he was much more than just a
colleague to us- we shared interests in music, physics, history,
culture, family, and just the joy of being in such an interesting
world.

Our first contact was at Erice in 1969 or 70, where Peter
gave lectures and I was a newly married student who brought his
wife Priscilla. Peter and Lisa had the kids there- Peter also had
his French horn. My memories of that time are golden- it was a
wonderful time of talking and learning. Over the years Peter would
visit when he'd come through to give talks at Fermilab- occasionly
I or Priscilla would see him and Lisa in Geneva as well. It always
was an immense treat to get a call from Peter- often from the
airport- saying he was in town. We'd talk music, physics, politics,
family histories- all non-stop.

I admired Peter as a physicist as
well as a friend- he was immensely creative, and also was astute
about hardware and technical issues. I was initially surprised by
this latter talent- once I learned it though I realized it was very
much in keeping with how deeply he thought and understood things.

We will miss him deeply. In my office there's a picture of him with
Sarah and Genevieve in the Rose Garden on Euclid in Berkeley- he
was very dear to us. Our thoughts are with you-

Henry, Priscilla, Sarah, and Genevieve Frisch

Bruce Winstein said...

Peter Schlein was a very special person. This is a loss that I find hard to fathom. He was special as a physicist and special as a human being. I first encountered him in the early 60s, when I was an undergraduate at UCLA, but got to know him much better when I was at CERN for a postdoc, in the early 70s. Our paths crossed frequently ever since. As a scientist, Peter was a bit of a maverick: very smart, very motivated by physics, and with a highly developed personal point of view about physical processes that interested him. He did not follow popular trends but rather his own interests. I only wish that we were training the younger generation to driven by the same things!

As a human being, he was sensitive and caring. His love of music was apparent from the very beginning. Sometime in the 80s he spent an evening with my wife Joan and me, talking and listening to music in our home outside Chicago, which was a total delight. Later I learned of his father's music and Peter gave me several CDs he had produced which contain some really wonderful and significant pieces. I met Lisa only a few times but feel I know her quite well as Peter so often spoke of her. It was abundantly clear just how much she and his marriage meant to him. I hope that you, Lisa, and your children can get through this the best you can and take some comfort in knowing the impact that Peter had on so many of us.

Bruce Winstein

Wolfgang Ochs said...

This had been very sad and unexpected news, and our thoughts are with Lisa
and his family.

Last time I met Peter in Aschaffenburg at a conference in 2003. We had
dinner together and he explained me his new ideas on the ``Pomeron'' and a
proposal for an experiment at the DESY accelerator for which he had
performed already various calculations. After this discussion he took my arm
and brought me to his hotel room. There he gave me an overview of his other
demanding activity: recovering his father's music. He let me hear one
composition whose presentation he had arranged himself and he was very happy
about the high quality of the performance. Another theme he was proud to
talk about was his family, in particular his grandchildren and their
ingenuity. So it became clear that physics still was an important part of
his life but now other thoughts took up a growing part of his attention.

I know Peter since around 1972 when I was working on my thesis with the CERN
Munich experiment which brought me for various research visits to CERN.
Peter was already a top expert in the field. Being at CERN we had
neighboring rooms and there had been heated discussions; sometimes we
worked in some kind of competition in the analysis of the experiment. He was
always very good in organizing ``priority cards'' which allowed him to get
privileged access to the computer ahead of the usual queue and sometimes he
gave one to me to make faster progress. With time I got to learn a highly
devoted and honest scientist who always while working on a particular
project had a view of the larger picture and the imagination of new
projects.

One time he had an important impact on my own scientific development. At the
occasion of a conference in the US he invited me to visit him at UCLA. We
discussed about results from my thesis and then he arranged a meeting with
Geoffrey Fox at CALTECH who worked on similar ideas. Back in Munich I
received an offer for a postdoc position at CALTECH which gave me the
opportunity to work for two years in a very exciting environment.

For his support I am very grateful to Peter. My wife Annemarie and me will
always remember his open and friendly personality and the happy hours we
spent together.

Thomas Muller said...

Please let me join all in expressing my and Dorothea's deepest sympathy to Lisa and Peter's family. I grieve with them, not able to believe that he left so suddenly.
Peter was a wonderful friend and mentor. Very often he came to my office during my years in UCLA back in the nineties. He sat on the yellow sofa and we talked mostly about new physics ideas be brought in, but also about personal and philosophical subjects. Unforgettable our evenings in the Shamshiri. I believe that the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy will give proper account to his contributions and accomplishments: Peter attracted to UCLA almost the whole of the High Energy group at present in UCLA.
We met often at CERN, too, where he spent much of his time. More outstanding than his dedication to Physics still was his devotion to Lisa and his children.
Peter left much too early, but he had a fulfilled and happy life.

Neville Harnew said...

I met Peter in 1994. He was the person who convinced me that I should be taking an interest in B-physics at hadron machines and I have worked in this area ever since! So on a personal level, Peter certainly steered my own career path. Peter was not only a colleague but a dear friend. It was with great sadness for me that he left the LHCb collaboration around 1996, but he always took a great interest in what the experiment was doing. It is especially sad that he will not see the fruits of LHCb data - since many of his ideas went into that experiment and are still there 15 years later. I have co-organised conferences with Peter, written proposals with him, and shared many a dinner and a coffee with him. Peter was a superb physicist - a man of many ideas.

Peter will be sorely missed by all of us. He was a remarkable person.

Norman McCubbin said...

It was a great shock to hear about Peter. I first met him in the 1970’s when I was a young post-doc working at the CERN ISR and Peter was already a group leader, battling with Carlo Rubbia for access to I6 (Intersection point 6) as I recall. His friendliness and enthusiasm for physics were striking and infectious, and remained undiminished over the years. The last time I saw him was a few months ago in the CERN canteen – where else? – and he greeted me, as he often did, with “There’s lots of exciting stuff I want to talk to you about, but no time right now”. On those occasions when there was time to talk, or at any rate listen, it was unfailingly enjoyable and stimulating, and always contained at least one idea that would revolutionise detectors or DAQ or diffraction or.. if only there was time! Of course, not all the ideas were sensible, let alone worked. No matter – we need people with ideas and Peter positively bubbled over with them.

Engaging, effervescent, inventive, passionate about physics, and, yes, occasionally exasperating (“Peter, when ARE you going to get those results published?”), he gave a lot to life and physics and clearly loved every minute of it. When I heard the news of his sudden death, the world of particle physics seemed suddenly a somewhat darker place.

Norman McCubbin

Pierre Darriulat said...

So many friends have been passing away recently, and yet I was so much taken by surprise when I learned about Peter, it was so unexpected and so untimely. While having never worked with Peter directly, I have had many chances to interact with him at CERN, from the early times of the ISR to our last encounter in 1999. I was leaving for Vietnam at that time and he had heard of my looking for second hand equipment which could still be used for physics, even if out of fashion. He gave me twelve large photomultiplier tubes which he had been using at the ISR and which he was keeping in a cupboard. I remember vividly how happy he was that this equipment could be made use of for a hopefully useful cause and how he was inviting me to also take other equipment of his which, he said, he could no longer make use of. He was not just being generous, but he was really enjoying being generous and I remember having been moved by such a pure and spontaneous kindness. This equipment is now part of our cosmic ray detector in Hanoi and I often tell my students about Peter and about this last encounter with him.
It was at the antiproton collider that we have been working the closest from each other. He was running experiment UA8 which was using our own detector, UA2, as part of his set up. Peter’s interest at that time, as indeed for most of his physicist’s life, was diffraction. Ours was on a more fashionable line and we tended to depreciate what Peter was searching for. I say we because most of us were thinking that way. We were arrogantly wrong of course, the physics of diffraction is beautiful and deep, but we were running after something else. The collaboration between our two teams went very well and Peter expressed often his gratitude for having being able to use our equipment. Yet, I remember my interactions with him at that time as him wishing to discuss quietly and at some depth such or such a question of his physics and I being always in a hurry to do something else and not giving him the time he would have liked us to spend together. I was feeling bad about it because Peter was so kind, so honest, without any other motivation than a pure intellectual interest for science. Already then, I knew that I was wrong not to give him the time I should have given him. I feel even worse today because of this impression I have of owing him more time to finish the conversations we had started and never really concluded. It is too late now.
Later, in the nineties, we often met in a quieter mood and took the time to chat more at leisure. I keep the memory of a real lover of science and of someone of an outstanding generosity and intellectual and moral probity, gifted with an unusual ability to look with calm, indulgence and tolerance at the futile entropy going on around him.

Don Miller said...

Bert (my wife) and I were shocked and deeply saddened when we learned of Peter's premature passing.

He was fiercely independent; he rarely joined large groups. He was at his best working on projects of his own creation with a small group of talented colleagues and students. Fortunately, Peter had the imagination and passion to make this challenging lifestyle work.

Geneva will not seem the same without the traditional lunch or dinner with Peter (and Lisa when not working). It was fun to listen to Peter's enthusiatic discussion of his lateat idea, discovery, or project.

We will remember Peter with fondness and pleasure. We extend our sincere condolances to Lisa and the family in these difficult times.

Don Miller
Emeritus: Northwestern University

Madeleine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madeleine said...

This comment is so many years after he passed away, but I wanted to add my two-cents worth. At this stage in my life, I seem to be very involved in genealogy and in photographing tombstones and extracting data for research purposes.

So I happened to find that people I had known and worked with in the early 1960s had passed away, such as Drs. Nina Byers and Mojtaba Taherzadeh, and added some information to their "findagrave.com" records, because there, so little had been said about them and their contributions.

The name and face of Dr. Peter Schlein came to mind this morning, and in searching for him on-line, I was reminded of his passing.

I was an undergrad at UCLA and worked part-time as a lowly "scanner" of hydrogen bubble chamber experiments when we were all working for Dr. Harold Ticho. (I wrote up an account of that experience that appears on UCLA's Physics website: http://www.physics.ucla.edu/marty/HighEnergyPhysics.pdf).

I remember Peter as a very quiet-spoken and peaceful type of person. Aside from that I cannot contribute much more, except that he was not forgotten.

May he rest in peace and condolences to family and friends,

Madeleine Isenberg,
Retired Software Engineer